OPINION

Opinion: The House stood up to the NLRB, the Senate should too

PETALUMA, CA - JANUARY 21:  A worker hammers nails as he builds a new home on January 21, 2015 in Petaluma, California. According to a Commerce Department report, construction of new homes increased 4.4 percent in December, pushing building of new homes to the highest level in nine years.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PETALUMA, CA - JANUARY 21: A worker hammers nails as he builds a new home on January 21, 2015 in Petaluma, California. According to a Commerce Department report, construction of new homes increased 4.4 percent in December, pushing building of new homes to the highest level in nine years. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Using the power of the purse, Congress has taken yet another positive step to push back on the anti-business policies of the union-backed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The House Appropriations Subcommittee last week took a stand against NLRB’s newly-enacted ambush election rule, which took effect on April 14, by slashing funding for the rule’s implementation. The subcommittee also took steps to ensure that the rights of workers to make informed, non-coerced decisions in union elections remain intact and that the overall privacy of employees is protected.

It’s time to stop an unelected board of union bosses and bureaucrats from deciding the fate of millions of small business owners and workers across the country.

- Hector Barreto

The ambush election rule was enacted by the NRLB in order to coerce employees to unionize in a short window of time, springing elections on unsuspecting employers in a little over a week. Previously, the window was, on average, 38 days between when a petition was filed to the election. Under the new ruling, however, the window is as few as 11 days.

NLRB data from past elections show that, from 2004-2014, unions won 86 percent of elections that took place under 21 days, compared to the only 60 percent that took place over a longer timeframe (36 to 42 days). The shorter the election window, the greater likelihood of unionization. It’s no wonder the union-driven NLRB wants to speed the process up; since union membership has been steadily sliding into decline.

The first month’s numbers are in, and as the business community warned, elections to unionize workplaces have sprung up at an alarming rate. From April 14 to May 14, there was a 32 percent increase in the number of petitions filed. This trend will likely continue, with the shortened rule encouraging unions to file petitions even when they think their chances of success are small. Employers have less time to hire outside labor counsel or educate their workers on the unintended consequences of unionization, and employees get confused when faced with coercion and misinformation from highly organized union campaigns.

Additionally, the NLRB’s new policy violates workers’ basic right to privacy. The rule gives blanket access to union bosses of everything from an employee’s personal contact information, home address, and job classification, to shift schedules and work locations. Union heads can now camp out on your doorstep, bullying you into the collective.

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Fortunately, pro-business members of Congress have been working to stop these unilateral mandates from an unelected board. The House and Senate passed widely-supported, bipartisan legislation in March that would have rolled back the NLRB’s reach and prevented the ambush election rule from taking effect. Unfortunately, the legislation was quickly vetoed by President Obama.

Last week’s actions to defund the NLRB’s new mandate represent the second attempt that Congress has made in support of workers’ rights (and they say they can’t get anything done!) Hopefully, Congress will be able to wield the power of the purse to sway the Administration to repeal the NLRB’s misguided policies that serve not to protect the worker, but to pad union rolls.

The efforts by the House Appropriations Subcommittee to defund the NLRB should be applauded, and the Senate should follow suit. It’s time to stop an unelected board of union bosses and bureaucrats from deciding the fate of millions of small business owners and workers across the country.

Hector Barreto is the chairman of The Latino Coalition and the former U.S. Small Business Administrator. He has invited both presidential campaigns to send a representative to The Latino Coalition's West Coast Small Business Summit.

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